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We Have a Problem
By Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 8, 1999

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This article contains links which take you outside washingtonpost.com.

You would think that as the end of this century approaches, millennialists would be jumping off of skyscrapers and more religious zealots would be raving about the rapture and The End of the World As We know It (TEOTWAWKI). Some folks are prudently setting aside some food and water, as if a long winter storm is approaching. But save for a few extremists hoarding guns and stretching concertina wire, all's been pretty quiet on the wacko front. Why? This time around we may have a real apocalypse on our hands – the Year 2000 Problem.

I don't mean to sound panicked; I'm not.

But, as I wrote several weeks ago, if you look to the Internet for guidance, you'll mostly find alarmists and opportunists. You have to search long and hard for rational, well-thought-out Y2K sites.

Readers rallied to the challenge.

Charles Reuben suggested we turn to Peter de Jager's Year 2000 Information Center. De Jager wrote one of the first articles, in Computerworld in the fall of 1993, about the Year 2000 dilemma. For eight years, de Jager has been warning of dire consequences in three principal industries – finance, telecommunications and power – if the problem was not addressed. Now he believes that companies are taking the crisis seriously and there will be scattered glitches. De Jager says that he's keeping his money in the bank.

Last month de Jager, author of "Managing 00," wrote on his Web site that we seem to be out of the woods. "Have we 'solved' Y2K? No, not entirely. But, we have avoided the doomsday scenarios. The next 12 months or so are going to be fascinating to watch. But it will not, contrary to the ravings found in some of the media reports and in many places on the Internet, be TEOTWAWKI. Through hard work and effort, we've broken the back of Y2K."

Luke Boulton wrote, "If you are looking for a reasonable Y2K site, try Y2K Today." The site is an online publication of iDefense, which purports to be the only company dedicated to protecting the infrastructure of the Internet. In Y2K Today, editor Scott Johnson compiles news stories, essays and surveys from reputable sources. Johnson's publication also produces its own reports. The information is sorted according to industry.

Declan McCullagh, chief Washington correspondent for Wired News, put in a good word for a couple of sensible Y2K stories. He was modest enough to not mention his own site called Y2K Culture. Smart and skeptical, McCullagh looks askance at both sides of the issue – those who ignore, and those who are petrified of, the millennium bug.

A couple of immodest readers wrote in to suggest their own sites. Dan Johnson and Don Taylor both have Web sites that try to ameliorate the Y2K angst. Johnson works for the World Future Society. The Society's site offers articles, books and a feedback board. And Taylor's Continuum 21 Foundation is a site "specializing in accurate, balanced and current information."

The Y2K obstacle doesn't seem as insurmountable as it did a year ago. But there is one nagging concern: Many of these sites are focused on America's readiness, not on potential global pandemonium, which could include world finances and energy resources.


   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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